Chapter 15 - A Leap Forward
Fortunately the Depression came to a sudden end with the close of the year 1932, when South Africa's departure from the Gold Standard brought an enormous increase in mining revenue, and with it not only a boom on the share market, but a vast influx of capital. Once 'again there was plenty of money available for mortgages while people, back in jobs, were eager to buy houses. This change of climate explains the issue in 1934 by the Milnerton Estates Limited, 40, Burg Street, Cape Town, of an attractive l2-page pamphlet adorned with photographs. Its cover said:
"SUN AND SHADE. OPEN SPACES.
SEA BATHING. LAGOON BOATING.
TENNIS. GOLF. THE SPORT OF KINGS.
CHEAP LAND. LOW RATES.
SITES TO BUILD.
An ecstatic account followed of the place itself:
"Milnerton, one of Cape Town's most select Marine Suburbs. Incomparably the best view of Table Mountain and Table Bay.
"Life is at its best at Milnerton. No hustle, no bustle, yet within very easy reach of the city.
"Nowhere else in the Cape Peninsula, so far as the Company knows, can better residential advantages be secured.
"Each day is truly a 'joy' day at Milnerton.
"Recreation means - 'Re-Creation' - a rebuilding of the troubled mind and body. Milnerton's pure and exhilarating air, restful surroundings and sporting facilities secure this.
"That is one reason why the select band of Residents at Milnerton keep to their choice. .
"Of the future of Milnerton there is no doubt. Ask those who live there.
"Now is the time to buy your home -site."
After further details of the general attractions, several useful facts were listed:
Cape Town's Municipal supply is connected. The charge to residents is 3/- per 1 000 gallons.
Here also, Cape Town's Municipal supply is connected. The charges are those which operate in Cape Town, plus 25 per cent.
A further advantage, which the prospective purchaser should bear in mind, is that the Milnerton Local Board at present levy a general rate of 1/8th of a penny in the pound on the valuation of property in their care, compared with the adjoining Municipality of Cape Town, whose rate stands at present at 4.14 penny in the pound. The Divisional Council rate 4 1/2 d and the Provincial Property Tax of 1/4d in the pound are the same as within the Cape Town Municipal area.
"It will therefore be seen that the total rates payable at Milnerton at present amount to 7/8th of a penny in the pound, as against 4.85 penny in the pound in the Cape Town Municipal area.
"A bus service operates between Cape Town and Milnerton.
"A good I8-hole Golf Course, said by those well competent to judge to be one of the finest in the country, has been constructed, with an excellent Club House.
"There are two gravel Courts - well placed and well kept.
"Cubicles have been provided for sea-bathing facilities.
Boating on the Lagoon:
"The Estates have expended a large sum of money on the construction of a Weir across the mouth of the Lagoon - to the bed of which they own title over the area concerned. In consequence, a fine sheet of water has been impounded. The Estates are prepared to issue permits for boating to Residents, but not to Non-Residents. This decision means a loss of revenue to the Company, but the underlying idea is to preserve, without objectionable crush, the attractive features of the Estates to those who make Milnerton a home for themselves and their children.
"The Milnerton Turf Club is situated on the Estate. This feature regular Race Days - is one of the great attractions of the Cape Peninsula.
"There is a fine park set aside - covering an area of some 10 acres. There one may bask in the sunshine or rest in the shade; with one's children at gleeful play, imbibing the tempered but fresh sea breezes from the Bay or the clear air from the surrounding open country.
"There is an attractive Entertainment Hall (set in the centre of the Park) which can be hired for Dances, etc., on very reasonable terms." Mention was likewise made of excellent hotel accommodation.
Turning to the actual position of the land, the Milnerton Estates emphasised that they would not dog the steps of any would-be Purchasers seeking residence, who were genuinely attracted. Indeed they were inclined to hold back the ground rather than sell it to speculators. Hence it was a condition of sale that all buildings must be completed within an agreed time of the date of sale, in return for which the Company would provide the necessary finance.
Finally came the actual terms.
"The usual size of a Residential Plot at Milnerton is 100 by 50 feet (5000 square feet). The usual price for 5000 square feet is £100 for a corner plot and £90 for a non-corner plot; subject to the detailed building conditions which can be seen at the Office of the Secretary, or at the Estates Office at Milnerton, or will be furnished on request. Special terms will be offered to intending purchasers of four or more lots." Restrictions were set out in regard to architectural standards. "The Company will see that the individuality of each house is artistic. Monotony of type of residence will be prevented. All plans must be approved by the Company and by the Milnerton Local Board. The natural charms and beauties of the locality will be preserved."
Largely to emphasise and celebrate South Africa's return to prosperity, Johannesburg in 1936 held the famous Empire Exhibition at Milner Park, where the Company took the opportunity for another burst of publicity. One new amenity featured was a children's playground in the Park, while steps were under way to prevent the recurrence of the floods which had marred the opening of the Koeberg Road area.
Of permanent importance too was the attainment by the old Marine Drive of National Road status, for which the necessary legislation had only recently been passed. Running along the edge of the sea towards Blouberg, it was an attraction, not only for this district but for the entire Western Province. .Preparations however involved lengthy negotiations with the Central Government, the Divisional Council and the Province. It took several years to reach finality but by 1937 there was already a Marine Drive bus service from the foot of Adderley Street.
In 1938 the further extension of the National road was approved, despite considerable criticism of the original plan. * Opponents argued that this would:
"1. Mutilate and practically destroy the Golf Course.
2. Mutilate or completely demolish an exceptionally fine and expensive private residence, and spoil the grounds attached thereto.
3. Knock down the bathing boxes.
4. Cut off Milnerton Village from ready access to the sea - unless the old wooden bridge was replaced by the Divisional Council, which the engineer (Mr. Fox) said was not contemplated. *
5. Reduce the value of lots adjoining the proposed 300 feet road for through and quick traffic, compared with those adjoining a normal road for slow and much less traffic.
6. Place the proposed road at the mercy of the sea, with the unknown factor of its effect on the Foreshore Scheme.
7. Involve a costly bridge over the wide mouth of the Diep River."
After a violent set-to, in which there were involved no fewer than six different parties - the Cape Town City Council, the Divisional Council, the Milnerton Local Board, the Milnerton Estates Limited, the Estate of
the late Sir David Graaff, and the Provincial Roads Engineer, a compromise was agreed upon which gave more or less all-round satisfaction.
Less violent but nonetheless audible was the controversy about street names. The original proposal was that roads should be called after old Cape Commanders and Governors, but in 1937 this proposal was replaced by one substituting place names in South Africa, particularly in the Cape Province.
Meanwhile, on the other side of Milnerton, an ambitious project was under way, to be called Table View Township. As events were to show, this was ill-starred. Fathered by an organisation called the Porterfield Estates Ltd., it covered many hundreds of hectares, which had been divided into several thousand plots. By reason of proximity, at any rate on its outskirts, to the older township, a contact had been made between the two directorates, and it was noted on October 5, 1939, "the rights of the Milnerton Estates are being watched".
Even if the traffic on the Milnerton line, at any rate on race days, continued fairly normally, there were some curious ancillaries; among them one mentioned on June 1, 1939 - the S.A.R. "Horse Specials", to Kenilworth Race Course at 5/2d per train-mile. However the idea of the horse-carrying motor lorry as a substitute for a railway was no longer merely a theoretical one.
Only three months later, however, the prospects of the entire World were radically altered by the outbreak of the Second World War.